Senior Leicester Muslim leader calls on his community to speak out against sex grooming gangs
by Ciaran Fagan
A senior Muslim community leader has said people need to speak out against child sex grooming gangs in his community and all others.
Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra, a Leicester imam and a senior member of the Muslim Council of Britain, (MCB), said grooming gangs existed in all communities.
However, cases recently uncovered in Derby and Rochdale, have involved Asian Muslims, he said.
He said he was concerned that people were reluctant to speak out against the problem.
Mr Mogra, the MCB’s assistant secretary general, said: “This is an appalling and abhorrent kind of behaviour which is totally unacceptable regardless of race or religion.
“Some of those perpetrators who have recently been convicted happen to be from the Muslim community so we need to be at the very front of the voice that is condemning this.
“It is important that leaders of religious communities speak out against this deplorable and abhorrent behaviour by adults toward vulnerable children.
“We should always be prepared to speak out against this form of criminality and remind our community of its obligation to protect children and young people from this form of exploitation.
“We will keep speaking out until we have eradicated this menace from society.”
The MCB is working with organisations including the police, the NSPCC and Muslim groups to raise awareness of the problem and to highlight people’s need to speak out against it.
The Muslim Council of Britain is planning a national conference to educate people about grooming, he said.
Mr Mogra spoke out against the practice when he appeared on BBC Radio Four’s Sunday programme this weekend.
The programme also spoke to Leicester East MP Keith Vaz, who is chairman of the Home Affairs select committee, which is also investigating the scale of the crime.
Mr Vaz told the programme: “There is no excuse for this kind of criminality, whoever is involved in it, but I don’t think it is a particular group of people, I don’t think it’s a particular race or religion.”
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) said child sexual exploitation spanned “all cultures and ethnicities”, while the recent cases had “highlight that Asian males have been involved in an organised manner in exploiting young women”.
A CEOP spokeswoman said: “Some of these cases involved offenders from different backgrounds as well, although CEOP are investigating why there may be a majority of Asians in these particular kinds of offence.”
Mr Mogra's radio appearance can be heard here:http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01rqgys/Sunday_07_04_2013/